PALMDALE – The City of Palmdale and the Palmdale Water District have reached a global settlement of multiple claims and lawsuits and are proposing a new joint powers authority, officials announced Thursday.
“It was a long hard negotiation, we worked pretty hard,” said District Board President Gordon Dexter.
“Both agencies are moving forward and looking forward to working together in the spirit of cooperation to best serve our residents,” said Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford.
Per the terms of the settlement agreement, the two agencies will consider the formation of a joint powers authority (JPA), tentatively called the Palmdale Recycled Water Authority.
“We will team up to become purveyors of recycled water throughout the Palmdale water district,” Ledford said.
The settlement agreement comes after a three-year span in which the City and the District have been involved in multiple lawsuits and various cross claims over right-of-way permits, potable water rates and control of recycled water.
“In 2011, the parties settled the right-of-way case and I think that broke the ice a little,” said Palmdale City Attorney Matt Ditzhazy, in a statement. “The attorneys on both sides established a good working relationship on that case and through the Groundwater Adjudication, which also upped the trust level as both our clients saw we could work together for some common goals.”
Late last year, the District approached the City regarding possible mediation. The two parties agreed to have subcommittees of their respective boards engage in settlement talks along with the attorneys. The District appointed Dexter and Vice President Gloria Dizmang. The City appointed Ledford and Councilmember Mike Dispenza. The parties initially sat down with a retired judge acting as a go-between for the mediation, but soon realized that face-to-face negotiations worked much better.
The settlement negotiation committee members from city staff included Ditzhazy and Director of Public Works Mike Mischel . General Manager Dennis LaMoreaux and Engineering Manager Matt Knudson were committee members from the District.
Together, the parties reached a settlement agreement that has the following points:
- Settles two lawsuits entitled City of Palmdale v. Palmdale Water District (the invalidation action and the water rate case).
- Settles the lawsuit entitled Palmdale Water District v. City of Palmdale (the recycled water case).
- Agreement to continue working together cooperatively in the Antelope Valley Groundwater Adjudication litigation.
- The formation of a joint powers authority (“JPA”) to be known as the Palmdale Recycled Water Authority (“Authority”). Both agencies must hold public hearings on the formation. The basics of the Authority are encompassed in the draft joint powers authority attached as Exhibit A to the Settlement Agreement. The first customer of the Authority will be the City to provide irrigation to McAdam Park on 30th Street East.
- The District will revise its rate structure to accommodate a 10% larger base water allowance.
- The District will provide a larger allowance for its turf buy-back program and establish other changes to the program.
- The City will reallocate its allotments of recycled water to the JPA.
- The Parties will obtain as much recycled water as possible on behalf of the Authority.
- The Parties will commit themselves to support all uses of recycled water (direct use, recharge & exchange) and agree that all available recycled water should be put to beneficial use as soon as practicable.
“It is now an opportunity for the city of Palmdale and the Palmdale Water District to work together, build trust, built a great relationship and move forward,” said Dexter. “It will be a great benefit to the community and to the customers of the Palmdale Water District.”
Read the entire settlement agreement here.